Nutrient value of crops declines

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by primroselane, Dec 6, 2004.

  1. primroselane

    primroselane Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,007
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    Deep in the heart of Texas
    The nutrient value of 43 garden crops has declined in recent decades, a study led by a University of Texas biochemist shows.

    The most likely explanation seems to be that farmers have planted varieties that emphasize other traits, such as greater yield, resistance to pests and adaptability to different climates, said Donald Davis of UT's Biochemical Institute. "Emerging evidence suggests that when you select for yield, crops grow bigger and faster but they don't necessarily have the ability to make or uptake nutrients at the same, faster rate," he said.

    Davis and researchers at the Bio-Communications Research Institute in Wichita, Kan., studied mostly vegetables, but also melons and strawberries, for which nutritional information was available from 1950 and 1999. Their findings will appear in the December issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. The results suggest a need for research into other nutrients and foods, such as grains, legumes, meat, milk and eggs, Davis said.
     
  2. sylvar

    sylvar Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    388
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2004
    WOW...that is very interesting. One logical assumtion that can be made from that is that it also contributes to the obesity problems in this country. We have to eat more to get the nutrients we need and thus we take in more calories to get the same nutritional value.

    Shane
     

  3. Momo

    Momo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    484
    Joined:
    May 29, 2002
    Location:
    North Alabama
    Another possibility is the depletion of trace minerals etc from the soil. Due to the use of chemical fertilizers and lack of crop rotation the soil itself is virtually "dead". So, they use artficial fertilizer to make up for it. It is a vicious circle.
     
  4. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

    Messages:
    11,456
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2004
    Location:
    NW Pa./NY Border.
    I wonder if they know the cultivars of these crops. I would like to see what heirloom nutrional value is versus these many hybrids that I bet are used and also wonder if it is a difference in the mass of the fruits and vegetables. For example, if there was 50 tons in the 50's versus 70 tons in the 90's and it had the same nutritional value for the 50 tons versus the 70 tons.

    Do you think that perhaps even those old breeds of plants (old being a relative term) at lower yields grabbed the same amount of nutrients from the soil as the better yielding plants now?

    Wow, lot's of things could have causes this.
     
  5. FrankTheTank

    FrankTheTank Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    366
    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    another reason to grow your own!
     
  6. YuccaFlatsRanch

    YuccaFlatsRanch Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    4,649
    Joined:
    May 3, 2004
    Location:
    Hill Country, Texas
    Also an Urban Legend. We have worn the earth out, global warming is going to kill us, life will cease to exist, the rainforest has all been cut down and burned, yadda yadda yadda
     
  7. sylvar

    sylvar Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    388
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2004
    Good thought, I didn't see it on snopes.com though, and they are usually all over this sort of thing.

    Also, I found a link to the original article:
    http://www.utexas.edu/cons/news/davis_crops.html

    Others brought up a good point about the soil possibly being the cause. However, of the nutreints listed (protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin and ascorbic acid) I believe only 3 of those are taken up from the soil, the other 3 are manufactured by the plant. They also go on to say this:

    “Perhaps more worrisome would be declines in nutrients we could not study because they were not reported in 1950 — magnesium, zinc, vitamin B-6, vitamin E and dietary fiber, not to mention phytochemicals,”

    Again a mix of nutreints from the soil and nutreints manufactured by the plant. Very interesting stuff. I would love to see some of the follow up studies. I would also love to see a study of heirloom varieties. This could ultimately turn out to be a financial boon to small market farmers.

    Shane
     
  8. primroselane

    primroselane Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,007
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    Deep in the heart of Texas
    Can you back that up?
     
  9. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

    Messages:
    11,076
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Kansas
    Thanks for the article primroselane. Thanks for the article link sylvar.

    I firmly believe that the variety change accounts for the nutrient difference, which the researchers state as well.

    "We conclude that the most likely explanation was changes in cultivated varieties used today compared to 50 years ago,” Davis said."

    After all, those cardboard tasting tomatoes in the stores are for shipping and long shelf life, not for taste. I like a rather acid tomato which breeders are getting away from. I also think a strong dose of manure is esential for the best tasting tomatoes.

    Soil does make a difference too in my opinion. I grew wonderful tomatoes when living in western Kansas, but those I grow in south central Kansas in the sandier soil are bland in comparison. Less heat and more plentiful rainfall may also play a key part.
     
  10. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,384
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Nuts with their being no difference. I grew up in Iowa. When I was a kid there were still some old timer farmers who had switched over to hybrid corn because it produced higher and brought the same money if sold. However they also kept growing some of the old open pollinated varieties as they insisted their hogs did better on it. These were not stupid, superstitious people, and this was back when there were real farmers who didnt try to farm half a county so could keep closer track of their animals on day to day basis. They also werent on some crusade for organics, they just went by what they observed. They saw a difference. I'll trust their impartial observation over what any university, corporation, or other politically inspired neo-con or peta member says.

    Frankly in life I have learned their is no true free lunch. Always a price to pay. Just watch who benefits financially or politically from any particular position on a topic and you know to take anything they say with a grain of salt. Maybe a boulder of salt....
     
  11. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

    Messages:
    11,456
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2004
    Location:
    NW Pa./NY Border.
    I don't understand what you are saying exactly. I think Yucca was saying that the soil was depleted was a myth, not the hybrid cultivars being used. I think you are both maybe saying the same thing, but I am not sure.
     
  12. antiquestuff

    antiquestuff Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    752
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2004
    I'm not surprised.........we are now suffering the consequences of messing with the food.......God created it a certain way, and we were able to domesticate those varieties. NOW, we are genetically modifying things to the point that you don't know what they are. they can have genes from ANYTHING, and it CANNOT be good for us! Just my opinion, I don't put much trust into big companies selling these "new varieties" of things.
     
  13. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

    Messages:
    11,456
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2004
    Location:
    NW Pa./NY Border.
    As I originally posted, I would be interested to see if they have enough info on cultivars to compare them to the same cultivar today. But my hunch is that they just say "tomatos" 50 years ago and "tomatos" today...

    I have a strong desire and will be trying to go with mostly heirloom crops. I looked into the organic thing and it seemed to be too much of a marketing scheme to me. It is just crazy (to me) that you have to pay around 400 bucks a year, + .50 cents and acre and a certain portion of your earnings to get certified as organic. But that is another rant for another thread I suppose... :no:
     
  14. Jack in VA

    Jack in VA Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    434
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2003
    You are what you eat..........that goes for plants, too.
     
  15. FrankTheTank

    FrankTheTank Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    366
    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    I agree with Jack...
     
  16. kathy H

    kathy H kathyh

    Messages:
    393
    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2002
    Location:
    California
    I remember reading about this recently, the answer was something about the chemical fertilizer causing the plant to take in more water which left less room for vitamens. If any one is interested I will look around for article?
     
  17. kathy H

    kathy H kathyh

    Messages:
    393
    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2002
    Location:
    California
    I remember reading about this recently, the answer was something about the chemical fertilizer causing the plant to take in more water which left less room for vitamens. If any one is interested I will look around for article?